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Meet the Community

You are not alone. The entire FA community, also known as the FAmily, is taking this journey with you. Meet a few of our dynamic people with FA below.  New Meet the Community interviews are posted every Monday, so be sure to visit often.  Please e-mail if you would like to be interviewed for a Meet the Community post.

FARA Ambassadors

The FARA Ambassadors are a group of people living with FA who are committed to supporting FARA in the search for a treatment and cure. They represent the community by speaking at events, meeting pharmaceutical partners, giving media interviews, and more.

Meet the FAmily!

Anna Morrow

AnnaMorrow1Name: Anna Morrow

Age: 11

Where do you call home? Baltimore, MD

Education: 6th Grade

Who do you live with? I live with my parents, sister Maggie, brothers Patrick and Sam, and dogs Libby and Delta.

What's a typical day for you? I get up get ready and go to school, I get home do my homework. After my school work is done, I have some free time so I will play with my siblings and/or ride my trike around the neighborhood.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed in June of 2015, when I was nine years old.

Are there any others with FA in your family? NO

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I work out twice a week doing strength training and core exercises at a fitness studio in my neighborhood. I also love to ride my trike a lot.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I am a big Ravens fan. I also like to ride bikes and my trike with my family.

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? I think of all my friends with FA and know that their going through this too and I’m not alone.

Tell us a little more about you. I love football and when I grow up I would like to work at the NFL. I also would like to travel to all of the rideATAXIA events.  Add a comment

Read more: Anna Morrow

Amy LaPorte

AmyLaPorte1Name: Amy LaPorte

Age: 38

Where do you call home? Omaha, Nebraska

Education (degree(s): I didn’t finish college. The doctor who diagnosed me told me to stay home and enjoy my baby with whatever time I had.

What is your relationship status? Do you have children? I am married with four children (20, 18, 15, and 12).

What's a typical day for you? “Typical” is a word not often used since my diagnosis of Friedreich Ataxia (FA). Normally, I wake up with my husband, and he wakes our two youngest boys After he leaves for work, my mom comes to our house daily, she helps me prepare for the day,. She takes the boys to school, then comes back to our house and takes me to the gym. I go to the gym five days a week for approximately two hours. After the gym, I run errands if necessary and go back home for lunch. Following lunch, I enjoy reading or watching TV - my leisure time! My boys come home from school mid-afternoon. I make dinner (often with my kids help). My husband comes home from work late afternoon, and we enjoy our time together until we call it a day.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was officially diagnosed when I was 20, but knew there was something wrong around 16. I am 38 years old now.

Are there any others with FA in your family? I had never heard of FA before my diagnosis. 

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Megan Rush

MeganRush 1Name: Megan Rush

Age: 33

Where do you call home? North Baltimore, Ohio

Education (degree(s)): Bachelor’s of Science in Health Information Management

How will FA add to your future [career]? I currently work at a Durable Medical Equipment place. I have had many opportunities to share my own experience using certain items. People seem to appreciate my view on things.

What is your relationship status? Married for 4 years.

Do you have children? 2 - a boy(2) and a girl(8).

What's a typical day for you? I wake up at 6 and get my kids ready for the day, I drop my son off at the babysitter’s house and my daughter at school. I then go to work from 8-5 or 5:30. I come home, figure out dinner and get the kids ready for bed (unless there are sports)…that’s it. I work part-time for now so it’s only 3 days a week. My off days, I stay at home with the baby. Sometimes I run errands and sometimes not.

How long have you known you are living with FA? (When and how were you diagnosed?) I was diagnosed when I was 18. I was a senior in high school. Before that, I was very athletic, (track and volleyball mainly). I was picked on because of the way I ran, I was clumsy, I started having migraines and I went to neurologist. While I was there, I asked him about my walking and the tests began. 

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Sam Bode

SamBode1Name: Sam Bode

Age: 31

Where do you call home? North Branford, CT

Education: I have a bachelor of science in communications with a specialization in video production.

What is your relationship status? I am a single transgender male. I live at home with my sister, Alex and mom. We have learned how to live together as three respectful adults. A lot of people seem to think there is something wrong with living at home with my family, but our house is always fun with people around at all times of the day.

What's a typical day for you? A typical day for me would be to get up early and get ready for work. I work in my old high school as an administrative assistant. I am responsible for directing people who visit the school, as well as some security (no I don’t carry a gun, which is not advised for someone with FA:). I also mentor some of the students and help out teachers. After work every day I have someone work out with me.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed when I was 8 years old, on April 13, 1995.

Are there any others with FA in your family? Yes, my younger sister Alex has FA. 

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Chelsey Sommerfield

ChelseySommerfieldName: Chelsey Sommerfield

Age: 27

Where do you call home? Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Education (degree): Administrative Assistant

Who do you live with? I live with my parents and sister at the moment.
Had my own apartment which I loved but after rent and bills I was not saving for the future.

What's a typical day for you? Monday through Friday I usually start my day around 6:00 in the morning. I work full time 8:30-4:30 and then I usually go to the gym before or after work.

How long have you known you are living with FA? (When and how were you diagnosed?) Diagnosed at 17, almost 10 years ago. Through months of going to different specialists they ended up sending our DNA to Ottawa to get tested and that’s when the figured it out.

Are there any others with FA in your family? My little sister, Brittany Sommerfield, whose three and half years younger than me.

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. Transferring from walker to wheelchair doesn’t happen overnight. At about age 21, I started using a walker. At first it was only sometimes, but then eventually it became all the time. But then I started falling and once I began falling in public. I started using a wheelchair when outside the home. At the age of 23, I had surgery on my stomach and that’s when I began using my wheelchair all the time. Now I have a power chair and a manual chair depending on how productive I need to be (If I’m at work or need to run errands I’ll take the power chair) where I am (Won’t use the power chair in someone’s apartment as I will most likely put holes in the walls haha) and how I’m travelling (If its someone’s personal car I’ll need the manual, city bus I’ll need the power and with handi transit its vice versa).  Add a comment

Read more: Chelsey Sommerfield
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